As details of DWI crash emerge, Walz and Flanagan call on Hennepin sheriff to resign

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Shaymus McLaughlin

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov Peggy Flanagan both called on Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson to resign, following Thursday's release of investigative data into his Dec. 8 DWI crash.

"It's not our role to hire or fire the sheriff of Hennepin County," said the St. Louis Park resident Flanagan Thursday afternoon, while flanked by the governor. "But as a constituent, I would say that it is time for him to resign."

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety released hundreds of files from the investigation earlier that morning, including documents, images, video and audio. They show Hutchinson, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DWI, was going 125 mph just before he crashed the county-owned vehicle on I-94 in Alexandria around 2:30 a.m. last month.

Records also indicate he insisted to law enforcement on the scene that he wasn't driving, trying to blame the wreck on a cab driver he claimed had been behind the wheel. Investigators found three guns at the scene and open containers of alcohol in the SUV. Witnesses said they saw him crawling away from the crashed vehicle.

Walz cited the "position of responsibility" Hutchinson, as the top law enforcement officer of the state's largest county, is in, and described the incident as a "breach of trust."

"I think most Minnesotans know and most Minnesotans understand that there's consequences for decisions like that," said Walz, who endorsed Hutchinson during his 2018 run for sheriff.

Walz and Flanagan both expressed relief nobody else was hurt in the single-vehicle rollover, and said they hope Hutchinson gets whatever help he needs going forward.

Flanagan also reiterated her stance, saying it "is time for him to step down."

Hutchinson already faced growing calls to resign from a number of local officials, including a majority of the seven Hennepin County commissioners, with many citing his lies to first responders in the immediate aftermath of the wreck.

The sheriff, to this point, has resisted such a move. After news of the crash came out, Hutchinson put out a media release saying he takes full responsibility for his actions, adding he enrolled in an outpatient treatment program to address his issues with alcohol and his overall health.

"This is the first step in the road toward recovery and regaining the trust of the people I work with and the residents of Hennepin County whom I serve," the statement continued. "I have returned to work and will focus on my duties as sheriff."

Hutchinson was sentenced to two years of probation. A 90-day jail sentence will be stayed if he follows the terms of his probation, which include a chemical assessment. He also had to pay $610 in fines.

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